Friday, February 13, 2015

Borough landlords offered cash in return for support on pub plans


Excellent article - well reported, REAL investigative journalism for once when covering pubs and a good follow up here 

It IS depressing. The Coop is the new Tesco. How desperately ironic, as the Coop movement is at the front of the nation's defence against this kind of community busting where pubs are asset stripped and converted into uses that no one around them really want... without any consultation with the people who use them. This is ONLY possible because of pathetically weak planning law around pubs which are in the same Use Class as, of course, shops. They are on people's doorsteps and cheap because the pubco's who own them have not invested in them for decades - instead forcing their tenants to maintain them through usurious leases that are fully repairing and insuring... ever wonder why all those pubs have buddleias growing out the roof? It's because they haven't made a profit for over a decade and the tenants can't afford to look after them.

The government put together: "A package of measures to support ‘community ownership’ of valuable local pubs." If you'd like to read the whole press release search for:

Package of support for the Great British pub

... and it'll show up on the govt website. The dreadful irony is that the Coop is seen as the way forward for community pubs that are under EXACTLY the kind of threat that the Marston's New River Retail Coop deal has put dozens of pubs under. They've already converted loads of them and are doing loads more... The same thing happens everywhere - the publicans get squeezed out one way or another, the community knows nothing about it until it's WAY to late to do anything about it, the community then raises a fuss, expends lots of energy trying to save their local and then get completely rolled over by Private Equity and the whole system and they get a Coop Store out of the bargain... This is what Coop says about itself on its website: "We're proud of our history. Helping communities thrive" Not quite so straightforward when it comes to pubs...

Around FORTY pubs have become community run cooperatives in the last decade. With this deal Coop has done over more than FIFTY with a sweep of a pen in one year... WELL DONE COOP!

As for the pubco concerned Marston's are flogging off hundreds, literally, of viable, working pubs with sitting tenants and using the proceeds to invest in new, managed pubs they can control totally - at every level - to maximise profit. These are the pubs that are indistinguishable from any other corporate behemoth food and drink dispense destinations that all pubco's and most 'family brewers' are investing in heavily now as they shed their tens of thousands of 'independent' tied lease pubs their business practices have run into the ground over the last quarter century, as above.

New River Retail is the private equity hedge fund middle man... Making it all possible. Brokering Britain's community retail pubs into community retail shops. Maximising value for everyone, except everyone who cares about these things. Most people in fact.

Whatever. It is a cultural crime. And pretty much all the People can do is stand by while it happens. This was Hilaire Belloc's take on the same kind of thing happening to our cultural heritage and traditions over a hundred years ago, "From This and that on Inns", 1912:

"Change your hearts, or you will lose your inns, and you will deserve to have lost them. But when you have lost your inns, drown your empty selves - for you will have lost the last of England"

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